tv [untitled] July 11, 2011 10:30pm-11:00pm PDT
has more. supervisor wiener: thank you, mr. chair. and thank you for everyone for coming out today. so our sidewalks are arguably most important -- are arguably our most important space. in terms of the public space that the most people use on the most regular basis, it really is our sidewalks. they are an absolute key element of any great neighborhood and a friendly building a community in our city's neighborhoods. we need strong in proactive and visionary management of our sidewalks in terms of what they are, how they look, what we put on them, where we put items on them, how we manage sidewalks generally.
we have a better street plan that was adopted by this board and is supposed to govern in by the management of our sidewalks to make sure that we have pedestrian friendly and neighborhood friendly sidewalks. we also have an order that is also designed to ensure good coordination and good management of what we place on our sidewalk in terms of the utility boxes. it is at least to me somewhat unclear how and to what extent we have coordination among the various city departments that have some sort of jurisdiction over our sidewalks, including the planning department, the department of public works, the public utilities commission, and the mta, and i called the hearing today so that we can hear from the departments about the extent to which they are
coordinating or press not coordinating on how the process works well, how it could be improved, what we as a board of supervisors may need to do to help, but and that is why we called the hearing today. before we start, one thing that i want to say and to emphasize very strongly, and i think the city attorney will concur, this is a hearing about our sidewalk, the better street plan, about the surface mounted facilities, and i encourage for my colleagues and members of the committee a full and robust discussion of this issue. we currently have pending before the board of supervisors and appeal of a categorical exemption relating to the at&t
proposal relating to the placement of the utility boxes on the sidewalks. this is not a hearing specifically about the at&t boxes. if people want to talk about utility boxes or the at&t boxes in terms of how they should be managed on our streets, that is fine. i need to strongly request that people not raise the issue of the eir or, excuse me, the categorical exemption and whether or not there should be a full eir. the board of supervisors held a full hearing on that issue, and that meeting is closed. it is currently scheduled for a vote one week from tuesday. if this were to turn into a discussion of a categorical exemption, we would then be having an inappropriate additional hearing, even though the meeting has been closed, with only three members of the board of supervisors involved as
opposed to the and 11. so, please, if you're going to talk about the at&t boxes, please limit your comments to be better street plan, how we should manage our sidewalks, and please refrain from talking about the categorical exemption or the eir, and if it does come up, i will remind you and request that you rephrase how you are approaching the comments, so we will start the planning department, and i do not know if there are any public comment cards, but if you would like to make public comment and have not yet submitted a card, please come up and submit a yellow card so we can call the appropriate time. thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors. commissioners. supervisors. i am sorry. i am used to being in front of the planning commission. i am with a design group which concerns itself with the public ground of spaces in the city,
and so i just wanted to quickly discussed the issue before us today, which is in conformance of the dpw order with the general plan and be better streets plan. the dpw order establishes rules and regulations for excavation permits for installation of service mounted facilities in the public right of way, and, again, the question is how does that order comport with the general plan and the better street plan. the order deals with surface mounted facilities and defines that this shall not include transit shelter, rams, platforms, traffic signal polls, but it shall include other for transportation purposes but not limited to a traffic signal controllers, communication hubs, a backup power supplies, switched controllers, electric service panels, and ticket vending machines, so these are the facilities that sit on the
surface. it has a preference for the fillets and replacement of the cities where they make sense on private property or underground whenever feasible, and if they are on private property or underground, it is required that their impact be minimized. some of the basic requirements of the order are that a person wanting to place the facility is give dpw a by-year plan for the cities they are thinking of, designs of the cabinets, the identified locations that are not on public rights of way in a documented attempt to enter into an agreement with owners to place those facilities there, and they also document an attempt to place facilities underground if that is feasible and that they explain -- export locations. this is the directors working order. supervisor wiener: right, and as
you're going through it, if you could talk about how the departments are coordinating or if it is just dpw or others you are inviting others. >> ok, i will. i thought i would just summarize first. so those are the basic requirements. one of the things that we pay attention to is better not unreasonably affect the character of the streetscape, the footprint, the finishes are appropriate, landscaped screening, and that there are other requests that not obstruct other existing or future facilities, that it meets certain placement criteria and that there are public notices. it also has a provision which i will describe in a bit, and i think more to your point, a supervisor, is that certain city agencies are noticed about the
projects when they have certain issues related to them, and i will go into that. other guidelines that day shall not obstruct pedestrians and that they should not encroach on of the facilities like hydrants and driveways. in terms of the planning department, the order says the placement guidelines that the facility shall not be placed on or adjacent to landmarks, in his store or conservation districts, and less colocate it. -- colocated, and they should be landscaped where possible, and finally, there is a point, although it is not connected to the planning department with the click, which says that any facility shall not unreasonably affect is that a character of
neighborhoods or the natural character of open spaces in accordance with the general plan. the issues related to his stores and open space issues are referred to another department, which chest time to let dpw know what it thinks about the project. the general plan, but the order, generally discourages but does not prohibit the use in the public rights of way, and let the order, the general plan has strong language regarding the concern for aesthetic streetscapes in the city. the better streets plan, which was adopted just recently, is a part of the general plan, and the better street plan incorporates by reference the dpw order, and it conforms with
the general plan. in a strong location siting criteria for the public right of way, and i will go through some of those quickly. the better street plan sets out some sidewalk zones. there is a zone in front of the building which allows some uses and the uses of the stores. there is another zone, and zone called the furnishings though, where you can put benches and newspaper boxes. there is a transition zone, notepad and then there is an extension zero, which is essentially the parking area, where you can sometimes put in some things and widen the sidewalks. the better street plan says that when allowed by the order, the director's order, and that is when they have gone through the analysis as to whether it has to be in the public right of way, that it can be located on the street, but it needs to be in the furnishings zone, some the
area where other furnishings are placed in the sidewalk, that they should be kept out of the zone, where the pedestrian path of travel is, and it carries with it something not in the order that might be contemplated that new ones could be located in a curve and extensions. if you remember the bitter street plan, it has a whole program on how to extend sidewalks into the parking areas, the better street plan says that that is a fact where you can consider putting surface not facilities. the better street plan also talks about considering the overall pattern of plantings, lighting, and furnishings when placing utilities in the street so as to minimize the disruption to the prevailing streetscapes.which is outside the public right of way to minimize their negative effect and create consistency.
in addition, those are conditions found very similar to those found in the order. the better street plan says that the boxes or facilities should be neutral in color, or they should be artistic expressions of the community, what painted quite wildly so they become art pieces. part of the plan which is not in the order is that the city should use major utility work as an opportunity to build a street that conformed to the conditions and visions of the better st. paul and , so the w. different thoughts i think from what we see in the order. one, it is ok to put things in one zone, if you will, or consider them there, boat and that the installation facilities should be used to make some of the improvements in the better
streets plan. in terms of an analysis of the order and help it conforms, it is our opinion that it is in conformance and that the location criteria were strong and robust, it said that is sort of our take on the question. i would be happy to answer questions if you have them, and i know there are others from other agencies, as well. just -- supervisor wiener: a question as to whether you think there need to be any changes to the service and facilities order, either to incorporate or to refer to the plan, and one area was curb extensions.
i do not think those were mentioned in the order, and so they are certainly part of the better street plan, it so do you think that would need to be incorporated or anything else? >> well, actually, the order refers to the general plan, and the general plan is always amended, so it refers to the general plan that is currently in place, so in one way, they actually are referenced as a result. better st. ideas are part of the general plan and part of what is to be looked at in the dpw order, but they are not called out explicitly. that is sort of a new thought that when they want to think about in terms of strengthening some of the discussions that are going on and what we used to improve streets to the standards of the better streets program. >> ok, because i think even the general reference, you are talking about staff meeting to
enforce a particular order, i think it might be useful, it is appropriate, to call out specifics rather than general references. so i have a question about, and dpw is here, as well. maybe you want to go and present, and that i may have a question to both of you, because i do not know exactly whom? >> the guidelines, it sort of says at what time you refer certain design issues to certain agencies, so we can go over that if that would be helpful to you. >> ok. thank you. >> supervisors, john from the department of public works again. i want to thank you for giving an overview of the surface melt facilities order. i have copies of it for the board of supervisors just in case they need to see copies of it. he is correct. the order is very specific as it relates to the implementation of
the surface mount facilities program and requirements. the department provides details on how they are to a valley with the placement of these facilities within the public right of way. typically, again, it is placed in the furniture zone, which is a note -- within the first 3 feet of the curbside so it will match up with other facilities that are currently out there, things like street trees, lights, parking meters, street signs, and other surface mounted facilities, such as controllers, and those are all plays typically in the furnishings zone. as part of this, there are specific requirements as relates to location, as relates to site visits, which are agency wants to place these facilities, to about to meet these conditions to make a determination whether these are appropriate for the associated neighborhoods and the associated location.
as part of this review process, we also require an about mission by the agencies, whoever is asking for these facilities, to make a determination whether it can be placed on private property, be it on city-owned land, or some kind of contract with a property owner. supervisor wiener: they actually go to take a look to see if it is appropriate or inappropriate or how it should be cited >> that is correct. supervisor wiener: others go on that side does it? >> if necessary, yes. supervisor wiener: what do you mean if necessary >> as noticed in the order. if it is within the historic districts, we would not normally provide that notice and have them show up with us. knowing there is an additional
requirement, many agencies would choose not to waste facilities in these historic districts because of the additional requirements. they tried to about in a whether these will be placed somewhere else and would be appropriate. supervisor wiener: if we were to take historic districts out, because on a tiny amount of the city is related to a historic district, related to dpw, typically with other it departments to go out, it seems to me that is pretty important terms of actually eyeballing what the neighborhood looks like and where something might be appropriate or inappropriate in terms of planning for that streetscape, so that is very different from reviewing it on paper, for example, so i am is wondering, outside of historic
district, what kind of coordination there is. >> yes. typically, there is an evaluation from the applicant. we would do a preliminary review, using either google maps or some other facility to show us how that corridor or how the area looks initially before we make a determination, because under this as stated, there may be situations where sufficient information is provided, where a site visit is not necessarily required. for example, there is one that is already issued that is under protest, placed behind shrubbery, said the general public cannot see it at all. so there may be cases. one side of the sidewalk may be very narrow, so based on the
about the mission, in my be necessary for the department to contact -- to contact planning regarding specific locations, but typically, the information provided at a site visit is sufficient for the department to make that a valuation. >> -- supervisor wiener: what if you have something that is not going to be one or two things but is going to be a large number throughout the city, so it raises broader planning issues. i am not talking about environmental review, i am talking about the surface mounted facilities order to place them. to what degree would dpw coordinate with other departments, for example planning, and whether it is a site visit or other aspects? >> supervisor, as it relates to the placement of surface mounted
facilities, they are typically cite specific. it talks about one side, application, not necessarily a corridor area air -- or an area. so in some ways, the order itself is very specific, as it relates to a specified site, so we evaluate a specific site in isolation within an immediate area. >> -- supervisor wiener: so it is something that could cumulated me have implications for a neighborhood in terms of maintaining a good streetscape in that neighborhood? at what point would dpw involve other departments in the evaluation process? it is i think there is, and i do not know if it is true or not, there is a perception that this is done in a one-of kind of way
without necessarily having sort of a broad view. what will this mean for this neighborhood? >> well, supervisor, currently, with the passage of the better street plan from the board of supervisors, there are currently working groups with the department of public works, with mta, the planning department to identify the implementation of the better streets plan, analysis. so it is a function of where a facility is and how it matches the implementation plan in order to make that determination, so in and of its cells, each specific facility is viewed upon is if there is a plant associated with this specific location and how that would be implemented as part of this approval. supervisor mar: i did have a
question, too. from the prior presentation about allowing neighborhoods and communities to have input in creating more livable street and communities, in a complete street approach, so we are looking at all different factors, not just transportation but where people live, as well, but for your regulation order, it seems that you have very broad authority to protect the public spaces, as well. maybe not as specific as the better street plan, but from my understanding, had you define as that, just in one section, it means pleasing in appearance in the context of the surrounding area, and the box in my district might become behind shrubbery,
but to a neighborhood person, it might not be pleasing compared to some of the neighbors in the area that see it hidden, but i guess, how do you define aesthetically pleasing proof is in a regular person in the neighborhood or a community activist? it is so subjective, i am wondering how you determine what is aesthetically pleasing. >> you are right, a supervisor, that is a challenge. one of the things we use is what other service map facilities are in the area. are they similar in size, shape, color, form, from that perspective. these kinds of facilities, if we approve the facility, need to match other similar facilities in terms of color, size, that aspect. supervisor mar: at least for the at&t boxes where there are already something like over 700
-- >> .the request was for an additional 700 boxes. supervisor mar: the second boxes would be within a certain distance could and then most of those 700 areas are not going to have the amount of space that la playam -- la playa has, so there is a huge public area where you have room for, but that there are other boxes, you probably do not have anywhere near that amount of space to play with, i am guessing. >> going back to the order itself, in these kinds of cases, nearly all of these facilities would be placed in the
furnishings know, which is near the curbside in this case, to match whatever else is out there. obviously, the department will make an evaluation. are there any existing trees, parking meters, parking signs, other boxes out on these areas already in order to make a determination, as part of that determination. supervisor mar: one other question. in the order that was signed in 2005, it said that dpw had received a number of excavation permits from a number of utility companies and city departments. i think that the city departments, it probably will month before the city good. if it is a city department recommending this, but for the utilities, it is my understanding that they mostly with before, the entities, that they will be increasing their competitive advantage or making more profits from their use of public space, butthe other utilt
are commonly requesting these permits, besides at&t? >> currently, we are talking about 2 you a separate items. there are service facilities that are above ground for all agencies, be it from the city or the public or private entities. the utility excavation permit the department issues is not only to members of the city family -- puc, mta -- but also to your typical utility provider -- pg&e, at&t, comcast, nrg, and a variety of other utility companies authorized to occupy the public right of way, as allowed by the california public utilities commission. supervisor weiner: following up
on the question about the is that tick determination and what matches and does not -- about the aesthetic determination and what matches and does not, when does the team -- dpw involve other departments, such as planning? i ask that not to denigrate dpw's as the pick sensibilities. -- aesthetic sensibilities. [laughter] in my experience, the planning department was really the department that made sure things looked right and had good urban design standards. dpw did an excellent job actually making sure the plaza came into existence. so to what extent is -- does dpw in both planning anin the aesthetic evaluation?
>> currently as necessary. we do contact planning for certain evaluations. in a majority of cases, the city once the service facilities for each utility company to have a uniform coloration, a uniform scheme, in case one in the department will receive phone calls or notices from 311 of graffiti or other damage, we can quickly identify the utilities and notice them to effect the appropriate maintenance or repair. in many cases, we are currently evaluating -- for example, if you have situations where you want to make the surface facilities uniformly colored, like i stated earlier. so we try to work with all the agencies to make sure everyone are